Rappers In The Cannabis Industry
Hip-Hop and cannabis culture have been intertwined for some time now. Old-school musicians like Afroman, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Devin The Dude, B-Real, Method Man and Redman have been mentioning the plant in their songs for over two decades. Now these pot pioneers are making serious green off the emerging weed industry.
Snoop Dogg has created the infamous “Leafs by Snoop” brand that has partnered with Canopy Growth to sell their branded strains in Canada. Method Man and Redman have both invested in a cannabis-related digital app. B-Real (Cyprus Hill) opened his own “Dr.Greenthumb’s” marijuana dispensary in California in 2016. However, some of these hip-hop legends have had more success than others. Dr. Dre and Xzibit were reportedly sued for a botched cannabis company deal involving the brand ‘Brass Knuckles” earlier this year.
Old-school rapper Kurupt helped launch the powerful product Moon Rocks, which are marijuana buds dipped in hash oil and then coated in kief. This product has become extremely popular and sought after. The brand uses Kurupt’s name and features his likeliness on the label.
These artists have blazed the trail for modern “weed rappers” like Wiz Khalifa and Berner, who have also entered the cannabis industry as entrepreneurs. Some create their own companies and others simply license their likeliness to existing weed brands.
One of the best examples of this is Berner’s Cookies brand. Berner is a rapper that belongs to Wiz Khalifa’s “Taylor Gang” record label and group. He has been working in the cannabis industry since 15 years old, when he lied about his age to get a job as a “budtender” at a local cannabis club in the Bay area. Since then, he has turned Cookies into one of the most recognizable marijuana companies in the world. Cookies owns and operates several dispensaries in legal states, a successful clothing line and many different cannabis products and strains. Berner has created an empire using his deep knowledge of the cannabis consumer and his connections in the industry.
Wiz Khalifa teamed up with RiverRock Cannabis in 2016 to create his own branded strain of cannabis known as KK (Khalifa Kush) along with infused products and concentrates. Wiz hand-picked the genetics and worked with the growers to cultivate a product he personally would want to consume. These products have been very successful even though they are extremely rare (can only be purchased at REEF dispensaries in 3 states).
Several other hip-hop artists have also created branded strains and cannabis products. Rapper Ty Dolla Sign (also signed to Taylor Gang) has created a strain named Dolla Sign OG. Curren$y not only has an Andretti OG weed strain, but he also collaborated with Reebok to create a weed-inspired sneaker. Juicy J announced the launch of his “Green Suicide” strain in 2016. Soulja Boy has a couple of personal strains under his belt including “King Soulja” and “Marilyn Monroe OG” strains. In 2015, Migos revealed they were given their own strain in California named “Migo Gas” after one of their favourite ad-libs. In October of 2014, Chief Keef opened the very first weed shop in Compton. The top seller is unsurprisingly Chief Keef OG, the rapper's strain. Dizzy Wright's Dizzy OG strain won second place at the 2016 SoCal Cannabis Cup. Riff Raff has created and marketed several strains including “Jody Highroller”, “Red Carpet Kush” and “Lamborghini Leg Lock”. A$AP Rocky teamed up with Kandy Pens to create a line of wood and gold-paneled vaporizers called the “Flacko Jodye collection”. Freddie Gibbs, Paul Wall, Nipsey Hussle and Ghostface Killah have all entered in the industry in some capacity.
Hemper is a company that offers a premium monthly subscription box of limited edition smoking accessories. They team up with cannabis-friendly celebrities and musicians to craft unique kits of marijuana accessories. This gives a chance for fans to consume cannabis like their favourite public figures. Hemper has teamed up with a variety of rap musicians including Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Debbie, Cypress Hill and Rico Nasty.
In 2018, there is a new breed of hip-hop cannabis brand that has emerged thanks to innovative marketing agencies. Green Street Agency is a marijuana-focused full service creative agency based in Los Angeles. They have recently helped launch two brands, one with 2-Chainz simply named “Gas” and another with The Game that is labelled “Trees By Game”. Both brands feature beautiful and simplistic branding and design.
“Gas Cannabis Co.” is a collaboration between 2Chainz and Green Street, meaning the agency actually holds an ownership stake in the brand. The product line hosts a selection of premium bud and pre-rolled joints that were released in dispensaries across California this month. In addition, concentrates, infused topicals and edibles will be offered as well.
The rapper came up with the brand name “Gas” himself. “I know quality GAS by the look, the feel, the smoke. GAS stands for one thing, and you’ll know it when you experience it,” he said. “It’s top-end, but at an affordable price, because I want everyone to be able to understand that GAS is the real fire.”
The Game created a business partnership with LA-based Vertical, one of the world’s largest vertically integrated companies in the cannabis industry. The Game is extremely passionate about cannabis and is quoted saying “the product, the taste, the quality, and how it makes the people that use it feel is everything to me.”
This new company, Trees By Game, has chosen Green Street Agency to fulfill all of their marketing and branding needs. The brand launched this month in licensed California dispensaries. With the operational expertise of Vertical, the marketing genius of Green Street and the popularity of The Game - this brand is a perfect recipe for success.
Canada’s marketing regulations under The Cannabis Act prohibits any celebrity endorsement. However, several Licensed Producers have already found creative work-arounds to partner with musicians like Gene Simmons, Snoop Dogg and Classified. LPs have also sponsored and promoted hip-hop concerts in order to build brand awareness prior to legalization. Hexo successfully brought the Wu-Tang Clan to Toronto for a show. Aphria’s recreational brand Riff.Co Lab sponsored a concert with emerging rappers Sheck Wes and Yung Tory. Canadian companies understand the power that these musicians have to spread their brands.
Business partnerships between cannabis companies and hip-hop musicians will likely continue to occur as long as the green keeps rolling in.